Press Conference

Summary of Jim Curtin’s weekly press conference

Philadelphia Union manager Jim Curtin faced the media today ahead of Friday’s clash with NYCFC. In the face of a winless streak stretching back to August 2016, Curtin preached patience and consistency to the assembled press corps.

Here’s a summary of what the manager said.

Opening statement from Jim Curtin
  • Though the team started well through 30 minutes, overall the result was “not good for the group.” After the goal, it was “a little bit of a letdown.”
  • The team is not happy with where they are in the table.
  • However, Curtin emphasized that it’s important to keep perspective and emphasize the good moments that the team has had — against Vancouver, against Toronto, and a half against Orlando.
  • “We have a good team, we’ve had good meetings this week, stressed bringing the energy and bringing the passion.”
On the substitutions that put Alejandro Bedoya at the no. 8
  • Curtin noted that it was “unfortunate” that the team gave up a goal on a restart right when the substitutions were made.
  • When Bedoya is able to face the field, he is the most comfortable.
  • The goal is to get guys up to speed with regard to fitness — Alberg worked hard to get into shape and the team rewarded him with some minutes.
  • The next step is making decisions to face NYCFC.
On Marcus Epps and Fafa Picault
  • Playing time is earned during the course of the week, during training and during Bethlehem Steel FC games. Epps had a good preseason and has done well during his time on the field, so he was rewarded.
  • Picault was the odd man out, which was difficult for him, but he’ll keep working during practice.
On Keegan Rosenberry pushing upfield
  • It’s “fair” to observe that Rosenberry isn’t getting forward as much this year.
  • To Curtin, the team is at their best when players are in aggressive, advanced positions. He suggested that the team hasn’t played enough balls to Rosenberry to get him closer to the right winger.
  • The team needs to play more to Rosenberry’s strength in the attack.
On David Villa
  • Villa is a world-class goal-scorer who can occupy both center-backs, even without a big physical presence. He’s as dangerous as it gets in MLS.
  • NYC is a dynamic, attacking team, especially considering Jack Harrison and Rodney Wallace’s skills.
  • Curtin cited pressure to the ball and runs from deep areas as points of emphasis. NYC played with three centerbacks last week in a sort of 3-6-1. It’ll be up to the Union to try to stop their strong system, especially with initial pressure right after the goalkicks.
On Fabinho and Giliano Wijnaldum
  • Fabinho “actually has a really good game” up until the play at the end. The staff talked to Fabi about being decisive and ended the play. He’s the first to put his hand up and apologize.
  • That said, Curtin won’t let one play in one game say that he had a bad performance.
  • The team needs to eliminate big errors. They’ve given up three penalty kicks, some goals that are individual mistakes that can be fixed.
  • Like all of the Union’s reserves, Wijnaldum is in the discussion. He’s been improving in practice and had a good performance with Bethlehem.
  • Curtin said that it’s not fair to say that Wijnaldum is behind schedule in terms of acclimating to the team. When you pick an 18, you choose one outside back, and right now Ray Gaddis and Fabinho are both ahead of Wijnaldum. Ray has more experience in MLS and is in decent form.
On the strikers
  • “It’s a close one.” Curtin says that the team has three good forwards: Sapong, Jay Simpson, and Charlie Davies. Factors include how the team is going to play, which guy is “hot,” and their different skillsets. It’s a decision that still has to be made for Friday and going forward, but both players have had a great mentality with it.
  • Later, Curtin says that they’re considering “everything,” including playing two strikers at the start, but emphasized that they believe in the current formation. It just takes executing and guys making their roles clear, and things will start to turn our way.
On Chris Pontius’s touches in the final third
  • Pontius is someone who’s very good in the box finishing off plays — for a variety of reasons, it hasn’t quite clicked this year.
  • The team is creating chances, and is second in the league in shots conceded, so Curtin thinks that patience and continuing to do the same things will lead to goals, eventually.
  • “I don’t worry about Chris, at all.”
  • Every team goes on a good run, every team goes on a bad run. Right now, the Union are in a bad run, but when you look at a team like Seattle that started poorly last year, they went on to win the cup. Charlie Davies brought up in a group meeting the example of a team that lost 8 in a row and went on to play in MLS Cup.
  • Because there’s a lot of parity, you can go on a bad spell and fight your way out. The Union have had some good performances and played some tough teams.
On injured players
  • John McCarthy is still not cleared to play.
  • Josh Yaro has been “impressive” on the field, and he’d say that he’s ready to go now. He can run on the field and sprint fully. Getting closer, no explicit timetable.
  • When asked about any updates on Maurice Edu, Curtin gave a curt “no.”
On keeper Benjamin Bellot
  • Bellot is a contact of Oka Nikolov’s who will be training with the Union next week “strictly to train and stay sharp.”
On the 4-2-3-1 and a formation change
  • If the team were to scrap the 4-2-3-1 now, there’d be “confusion,” and we don’t want to make it more complicated for the players.
  • The Union recruited players based on the roles they want filled in the tactical system. “We know that we haven’t performed exactly how we want to on the field, but if we continue to believe in the system that we have, we will get the results that we can deserve.”
  • We could go through each game and point out the moments where the Union have come a little bit short.
  • The team senses urgency, but they’ll fight their way out on the system that they have.
On Haris Medjunanin
  • He’s playing very well, and is as good a passer that Curtin has seen. He only has two assists, but it could be up around 7 or 8. For a defensive midfielder, to have so many good passes has been very impressive. As the team starts to turn things around, he’ll get more recognition from the league.


  1. I have a bad feeling about this.

  2. Reminiscent of Phil Jackson trying to institute the triangle with a Knicks team that lacked the talent. 4-2-3-1 or bust for Jim. He ain’t changing.

    • Pragmatist says:

      Good analogy. “We play this way, no matter who is here.” Just because it worked before (well, for Phil, when he had the GOAT) doesn’t mean it will work every time.
      Unfortunately, that lesson isn’t easily learned.

    • Not really convinced you can just put it on Curtin. Earnie has said as much as well. This is a team committed to playing a certain way. Unfortunately that way has not been successful thus far.

  3. el Pachyderm says:

    “stressed bringing the energy. bringing the passion.”
    not gonna lie- this is certainly important but…. the tactical rigidity (used loosely) is alarming to me- is their a chalk board we’ve gone back to?
    Doesn’t sound it and either this guy is going to fix this or its going to get really ugly.
    I’m hoping there has been a team meeting or something. a Captain’s meeting or something.

    • In this case if i was captain i would tell my teammates to lose one more game and we get a new coach.

      • Zizouisgod says:

        I could be wrong, but I’m guessing that you’ve never been captain of a team before.

      • Wrong. I was. Have you ever heard of players giving up on the coach without saying a word to each other?

      • Zizouisgod says:

        OK, great. I have a follow up question:

        As a captain, did you ever tell your teammates to purposely lose a match for any reason? And if so, what was the forum? Did you speak to each individually or just call the group together to convey this message to the collective?

      • I should put smiley emoji at the end of my first comment. It supposed to be sarcastic comment, my bad. I never told my teammates to purposely lose a match. But after 13 games pounding the same sh.t many players just gave up. It went without saying. You talk to some players/friends on the team all the time about other players, coaches and tactics. And you come to conclusions. It happens all the time.
        Remember one of the reasons Peter Nowak was fired?
        Either way, Curtin must go.

      • Zizouisgod says:

        Understood, it’s human nature that this can happen. The challenge that Curtin has is if he makes radical changes to what he’s doing, it may make us happy, but could also make the players lose belief in him. It’s a real delicate dance that he has to do now which is why you see so many managers never stop long slides like this and end up getting fired.

  4. I see no promise that they will start a vastly improved lineup, so I see another loss. With a loss on Friday I think Curtin goes. I think he should go.

  5. Pragmatist says:

    Let me dream for a minute (and then everyone can say I’m crazy and illogical).
    I’d love to see a commanding 3-1 win Friday. I give Villa one, since he can create magic out of thin air. But a decisive 3-1 win with strong performances all around can change the tenor in a hurry.
    I say this because I’m tired of waiting for/expecting them to fail. I want to see quality play accompanied by wins, no matter who the manager is or who is getting minutes. Get back to giving us hope, by any means necessary. Get a win on Friday, and we’ll take it from there.

    • No one here wants them to fail but there’s zero evidence that your fantasy comes true. Even if they take 2-3 points from the next two at home, it’s too late.

  6. Joel Pterosaur says:

    Make no change…expect no change.

  7. Either Curtain is too proud to change, or Ernie has assured him his job is safe no matter what. Thoughts?

    • el Pachyderm says:

      I’m thinking if they lose Friday, the tumult will be pretty loud and the Sporting Director would be wise, if he intends to keep the manager, would do well to address the fan base.

  8. I like how the question to Curtin regards the 4-2-3-1 and formation change was answered by Andy Reid… WTF!?… ‘the train it won’t stop going – no way to slow it down… heeeeyyyy!!

  9. Oh boy! Curtin is going with the hot centerforward. What a relief! Villa likes to play in the slot between KR and Gooch. How are they going to deal with that. Gooch is slow as **** and Villa likes the ball on the ground. Oh Oh! NYFC is praying that Fabinho plays an attacking game. I think their wish will come true.

    • My biggest wish for this game is for Gooch to be on the bench.

      • Phil in Wilmington says:

        Gooch is the LEAST of this team’s problems.

      • No he’s not. He’s been ok so far, but he’s probably the most limiting player on the field. Is forcing Rosenberry to stay back and the team is still letting in a ton of goals and he’s fouling in terrible spots. I might even argue he’s the biggest player problem starting right now. If not, he’s top 3.

  10. There is a clear and giant disconnect between what the coach is seeing and what we, the commenters and writers on this blog, are seeing.

    Curtin sees a team recruited and built for this system that simply isn’t “clicking” or has had “mental letdowns” or whatever, and is liable to put it together any week now. Whereas the rest of us see such gaping holes that we are starting to blame not just the coach but the Sporting Director!

    I try to look at all the angles without being arrogant. So let’s consider: MAYBE one big missing puzzle piece is Yaro. Maybe he comes back, Keegan is unleashed, he sprays the ball around to Haris and whoever is on the right wing, the defense moves better as a unit, and you get a nice positive cascade. Maybe.

    But you still don’t have the answer to the gaping hole at #10. Is Earnie going to sign us a big-name foreign CAM this summer? Is that, along with Yaro’s return, supposed to give us a Seattle-like rise from the dead this season? Because by then, match attendance will be 13K and the coffin will definitely be back.

    • Phil in Wilmington says:


      I don’t care HOW good things are looking in practice or preseason. It’s not translating on the field.

  11. Did Jim Curtin really cite the 2016 Sounders as proof that a team can turn its season around after a slow start?
    Given what happened to Seattle’s head coach that year, he probably should have picked a different example.

  12. Do the Union want to keep the supporters and grow this fan base or not? It’s the same thing year after year no matter who is in the XI. This manager(Curtin) can’t or won’t get out of his own way and the ownership is just not financially competitive enough. Players are brought in and I honestly don’t think Curtin has a clue what to do. It’s the same diatribe of tired cliches and talking points to deflect from pertinent issues. He points to other teams situations as an example of how things go sometimes when your own team is stuck in perpetual mediocrity?

    JC said that if he changed the formation it would be too confusing to the players. Professional players can adapt. He doesn’t have a problem putting players in positions that aren’t their strongest or preferred so that is total BS.

    Change will only come once this franchise has moved on from the ties to the regime of the past. That means this manager and ownership. If not we may be having these same conversations next year and years after that.

    • I don’t disagree, but press conferences are nothing but cliches. Honestly, press conferences are stupid. What is the coach really going to tell you in them other than maybe some injury updates or something.

      • pragmatist says:

        Unless the coach is Gregg Popovich.
        But yeah…most of them are homogenized cliches. You’re just looking for health updates. Annoyingly, we’re not getting them anymore, either. “He’s coming along.” (Not counting Mo, who they are just not talking about anymore.)

  13. Last week someone speculated something about Earnie giving Curtin enough rope to hang himself (figuratively of course) so that Curtin would be let go and Earnie could get his own guy in here next.
    If Curtin trots out the same lineup and formation Friday, this possibility seems much more plausible to me.
    When things aren’t working it seems obvious to try to make some adjustments to put the situation on track – even if it is within your own existing system. Doing nothing and hoping for different results is unconscionable.
    One of my favorite quotes is by Einstein – “Vision without execution is hallucination.” Seems to fit pretty well…

  14. I’m not saying 4-2-3-1 is great or anything, but since we keep hearing it is the constant in the equation shouldn’t we be focused on who fits best where?
    After a losing streak this poor there are a few (general)directions you could go: Players, Formation, Coaching/Front Office. I think it’s pretty clear that the formation and the coaching/front office are staying the same, so shouldn’t we expect to see major changes in who plays week to week?
    I am hoping and looking for 2-3 major changes in personal in the starting XI tomorrow. THAT to me will be the victory (since 4-2-3-1 is GOLD, JC seems safe and ES seems infallible).
    I’d like to see CP, HM and OO on the bench. There I said it.

    • I’m ok with HM starting still, but the other 2 need to be on the bench 100%.

      • Same. It’s his loyalty to some players that kills him. Pontius should be sitting. Maybe Ilson Jr. too. Sapong should have sat last year and Wenger the prior. What’s the harm in sitting them one game and letting Fafa and/or Epps step in. If it doesn’t look good make switches at the half. Curtin needs to be seen trying to find solutions.

      • +1

      • I am 100% in agreement.

  15. A straight “no” answer on Mo’s status. Leads me to believe he has no future with the team. If that’s the case, make the cut now and spend the extra cash in the summer transfer window.

    Pontius has to be a sub on Friday. He’s been too quiet and sloppy in the final third. Love the guy, but he’s in a rut and the position we are in we can’t afford to start someone not playing their best.

    We sat in first place most of last season, kept our strong core players, and layered on some new experienced talent…. yet we haven’t won a game. Clear as day to me the issue is on the coach. Time to change tactics and if he fails to do that and we continue to be in dead last on the table, he needs to go sooner than later so we have a chance at recovering. Sigi and Bob Bradley are still on the market and they have coached some of our players before. No brainer in my opinion.

  16. Ok, which one of you gave Curtin’s presser? ‘Cause most of us coulda, Sad!

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